By MALUM NALU
Business relations between the Philippines and Papua New Guinea can only take a turn for the better with the establishment of twice weekly Air Niugini flights between Port Moresby and Cebu, according to the governments of both countries.
Philippines ambassador to PNG Bien V Tejano and PNG ambassador to Philippines Chris Vihruri concurred on this when speaking with The National after the arrival of Air Niugini’s inaugural Boeing 737 flight to Cebu on Monday night.
“I would say that the entry of Papua New Guinea’s Air Niugini into Cebu is a big boost for the two countries,” he said.
“This new aircraft coming in will add to a good relationship between the two countries.
“I would assume that there would be an improvement to both countries’ economies (because of the flights).
“I’m looking at an improvement in tourism in both countries.
“The business people here are so happy about this development.
“Many of these big players in the Philippines’ economy are here to witness this development.”
Filipino heavyweights in Cebu on Monday night included president of RD Tuna Group Ritchie Rivera, managing director of Frabelle Fishing Francisco Tiulaurel Jr, president of Frabelle PNG Ltd Augusto Natividad, owner of Kenmore Group of Companies Lucio Tan, chairman of Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority Manuel Roxas, Cebu City mayor Michael Rama, Lapu Lapu City mayor Paz Radaza. Mandaue City mayor Jonas Cortest,and members of the House of Representatives.
Vihruri described the commencement of regular Air Niugini flights from Port Moresby to Cebu as “corporate history”.
“The commencement of flights to Cebu is a very historic and important commercial decision,” he said.
“For Air Niugini flights to come to Cebu, in addition to Manila, opens us (PNG) up to Asean (Association of South East National Nations) countries.
“We (PNG) have opened up this part of the Asean market, which is very competitive.
“By coming here, Air Niugini is part of that competition.
“The (PNG) embassy, which I am custodian of as ambassador, is very proud.”
Vihruri said a lot of manpower for fisheries and LNG projects in PNG was provided by the Phillipines.
“The main relationship (between the two countries) is in fishing,” he said.
“A lot of recruitment is done here.
“A lot of the recruitment for the LNG project is also done in the Phillipines.
“Many of the recruits will be passed through the Cebu airport.
“Air Niugini will be doing good business, which is good for all PNG stakeholders.”